The Most Perfect Met Ever
August 15th, 2011 by slangon

This has been a very strange season for me as a Mets fan. I’ve kind of gotten used to frustration and disappointment being a part of my baseball diet thanks to every year since 2006. Lord knows this year has been chock full of bad feelings as well, but it’s also, up until recently at least, had moments of hope and small stretches where it didn’t feel so bad to root for the Mets.

For a while, it almost seemed like this ragtag bunch of guys was going to actually come close to the promised land, despite all the injuries and questions of free agents and payroll and remarks from ownership and so on and so forth. This team that jettisoned some of their best players midway through for the sake of the future. This team that lost other of their best players to bizarre injuries (A broken back? Really? A season ending sprained ankle? What?) This team that for much of the season was comprised of 90% of the Binghamton Mets AA Farm Club. This team was actually winning games. Against Major League teams. Until recently. I guess you can only get so far on moxie and Terry Collins pep talks.

So now that my Mets are once again spiraling into sub -.500 disappointment and since the looming disappointment of another Giants seasons hasn’t begun yet, why not delve into the rosy world of the 1981 Mets. And by “rosy world of the 1981 Mets” I mean “Good Lord, was this team ever good?”

The 1981 season was a bit of a strange one in Major League Baseball. Partway through the season, on May 29, the Players Association called for a work stoppage. I’m not so clear on things concerning collective bargaining and economics and business and all that kind of hoodoo, but it seems the issue at hand was that the owners wanted to be compensated for players lost to free agency and wanted to be able to claim a player off the signing teams unprotected roster. The players countered that any form of compensation undermined the value of free agency. The strike ended on July 31 with both sides agreeing that the club that lost the free agent would be allowed to pick from players left unprotected on all clubs rosters, not just the signing club. I don’t understand what exactly the big deal is or why that is any better than what the owners initially wanted, but I guess that’s why I’m not a Union Rep. Either way, play picked up on August 9 with the much belated All-Star game.

So what does all that have to do with anything? Well one rather odd side effect of losing 2 months of the season to the strike was the split-season format. Apparently, the owners decided that since they had that big chunk of time missed right in the heart of the season, they would break the standings into 2 halves. Basically, whoever had the best record from the first half in each division would play a best of five series with whoever had the best record from the second half in each division. The winner of that series would be declared the Divisional Champ and move on to the League Championship and eventually the World Series.

If that sounds like a weird idea, it should. First off, by those rules, whoever was leading the division at the time of the strike was basically guaranteed a playoff spot so there wasn’t much incentive to hustle out the second half. Sure enough, the Phillies, who were leading the N.L. East in the first half, dropped down to 3rd place in the second half and the Dodgers, who were leading the West, dropped to 4th in the second half. Over in the A.L., the Yanks led the East in the first half but then dropped all the way down to 6th. Oakland led in the West to begin with and then just fell into 2nd place to finish out the season.

Another messed up result of that set up was that in the National League, the Cardinals and the Reds had the best overall record when you combined both halfs yet neither team made the playoffs. Pretty messed up, right? The A.L. fared a little better since Milwaukee and Oakland ended up with the best records and both teams made the post-season.

So again, what does all that have to do with the 1981 Mets? Nothing really. It was just an interesting aside that I read about when I was researching this post. The 1981 Mets were a mess. They started off the year dreadfully, ending the first half with a 17-34 record that was good for next to last place. They really put the pedal to the metal after the strike ended, going 24-28 the rest of the way and moving up one spot in the standings to 4th. Apparently that wasn’t good enough to make any difference since their overall record still landed them in 5th place, only above the Cubs, who still managed to lose 65 games in a strike shortened season.

One interesting side note to that miserable season was a rookie relief pitcher by the name of Raymond Mark Searage. Now, first off, don’t thrown by the title of this post. Ray Searage did not, in fact, throw a Perfect Game for the Mets that somehow escaped the attention of baseball historians. The Mets record of having never thrown a Perfect game, or even a no-hitter for that matter, will live to see another day. Ray Searage has a bit of a different legacy of perfection working for him.

Ray was a competent if unspectacular relief pitcher who spend 7 years in the Majors. He only spent his first year in Queens. From there he moved onto the Brewers, White Sox and Dodgers. He compiled a career 11-13 record and collected 11 saves. During that span he averaged 3.5 earned runs per 9 innings and fanned 193 batters over 287.2 innings.

So why is the word “perfect” being bandied about to describe this man with such unimpressive career totals? During his brief tenure with the Mets, Ray had a 1-0 record for a perfect 1.000 winning percentage. He also had exactly one at bat as a Met, during which he collected a single off of Dick Tidrow of the Cubs. That gives him a perfect 1.000 batting average as a Met. For those of you counting at home, that makes Ray Searage the only player in Mets history to have a perfect 1.000 winning percentage as well as a perfect 1.000 batting average.

In a further twist of fate, it turns out that Ray’s final year in the Majors, 1990, he also had a perfect 1-0 win loss percentage with the Dodgers. Twisting fate just a little bit more, it turns out in that final year Ray had the only other 2 at bats of his career. Alas, he went 0 for 2 that year at the plate for a decidedly imperfect .000 batting average. I guess lightning never does strike twice.

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